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4th December, 2015

“The real estate industry should spend a lot more time teaching estate agents about contract law.”

“The real estate industry should spend a lot more time teaching estate agents about contract law.”

The CEO of Fine & Country International Realty receives BA LLB and encourages others to follow in her footsteps.

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The CEO of Fine & Country International Realty receives BA LLB and encourages others to follow in her footsteps.

Linda Erasmus, CEO of Fine & Country International Realty sub-Saharan Africa, received a BA LLB at a graduation ceremony at UNISA recently. She speaks of her experiences and the importance of contract law to estate agents.

When asked what inspired and motivated her to study for a BA LLB, Linda said, “As an estate agent, you work with legal relationships. From my first year as an estate agent I was interested in matching a buyers needs to the product the seller has to offer, finding perfect agreement between the parties. As an agent, I always made sure that I understood and could explain the terms of a contract to both buyer and seller, making sure the buyer understood his or her commitment and that the seller understood what he or she had to deliver. I was fortunate that I started my career in real estate with a company that put a lot of effort into making sure we as agents understood the need to protect buyers and sellers.

Through my interaction with contract law, I developed a passion for all the other aspects, something that I never had time to do while I was moving up from top agent to top manager, then owning three very successful franchises and becoming national franchisee of the year for three consecutive years with Seeff, leaving me no time as I was also the mother of three daughters. I started off in 1986 and sold 52 properties in 1987, juggling being a mother, wife and selling property.”

She adds, “In 2004 I sold my three real estate franchises when they were at peak performance, sticking to the golden rule – sell a business when it is doing well.

“At a loose end, I enrolled for the LLB degree at UNISA, regarding it almost as a hobby. Soon afterwards I signed a ground-breaking deal with Fine & Country, introducing this high end property brand to South Africa. Growing a new brand takes tremendous time and effort. So the studies had to take a back seat at the time.

“Studying while working takes extreme discipline. However, my years as a successful agent trained me to manage my time and have discipline. Something had to give and during the last two years I gave up my golf, which I will get back into now. I love the game and the outdoors.

“Although I have graduated, I won’t stop studying. I can assure you that at the rate that things are changing, I will have to keep abreast of the internet and law.

“The benefits to my staff, licensees and agents are huge, should they wish to avail themselves of the knowledge I have gained about law and the internet. A mine field awaits businesses, including estate agents.

“For now, I am focusing on Fine & Country and the adjustments we need to make to keep up with the times. There is no way people can be in business today hoping to survive on the knowledge they had ten years ago. Those serious about their business must start thinking about what they need to learn each day.

“I would love to share my knowledge with real estate principals, whether they are part of Fine & Country or not. I do believe that the industry should gain this knowledge to up its game in general.

“The more you learn, the more you become aware of what you do not know and how much more there is to know. I have also come to realise how many high profile companies are ignorant of labour law, defamation actions, etc.

“We are currently introducing a new agreement of sale within the Fine & Country brand, making sure that customers sign up-to-date contracts, protecting the buyer’s interests, making sure sellers deliver and buyers pay timeously. Drafting an agreement is not that difficult, but, in the hands of a novice, it can become a nightmare.

“Estate agents, in general, should become better acquainted with the clauses, as well as extra clauses in an agreement of sale. After all, clients rely on the guidance of the agent when buying or selling a property. That is my passion and I will continue to educate and lecture in this regard.”

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Linda’s advice to other CEOs of brands
(i) Labour law: Make sure that all principals understand how labour law treats the estate agent. (There is still a misconception about an independent contractor and an employee.)
(ii) Contract law: The real estate industry should spend a lot more time on teaching estate agents about contract law. Many agents still frustrate conveyancers with clauses in contracts. As an industry, we need to up our game here.
(iii) The internet and the law: Real estate companies are so busy seeing how fast the web can introduce a buyer to their stock that they generally fail to understand the implications of the misuse of information. A typical example is that they do not understand cybercrime. For instance, taking another company’s photos for publishing purposes is, in fact, stealing and is cybercrime.

Fine & Country would like to congratulate Linda on her achievement.

Linda can be contacted on (011) 234 6545 or 082 322 0079 or lindaerasmus@fineandcountry.com

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